June 15, 2010
Pictures in a Row’s Ray Baum, Gus Vasquez, and Steven Kellebrew (along with John Eggette from Producer’s Air Force and a few other people) put together Chuck Hood’s wooden mock-up of an F-16 and put it to work in the Air Force part of a spot for USAA, the insurance giant that caters to US service members and their families — Baum and company managed to curb their natural interest in what would happen if they installed a jet engine, and carted the whole thing out to the former Norton Air Force base, where ex-Air Force fighter pilot Chris Vasquez and Navy Blue Angel Len Anderson teamed-up to make a convincing show of a living breathing base attached to the tactical air command. That day, and the other three days of the shoot were all about making a paean to the men and women in the armed services — two spots, a :60 and a :30, as tribute and praise, with a little of what it means to serve thrown in.
The rest of the shoot relied heavily on an incredible group of guys brought by Jonathan Barton of Tactical Media — JB’s people rose to the challenge of recreating documentary-style footage of people in the field in Afghanistan and Iraq or on board ship absolutely wonderfully and with tremendous esprit de corps — all without any help from the military. Jon Barton’s people — and Jon himself — were phenomenal. Bob Hope’s old ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains and inner Lytle Creek at the 5000-foot level stood in for Afghanistan, as did Blue Sky Ranch in Santa Clarita. The USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum played the part of a more modern carrier.
Peter Lang was the director, Sharon Groh produced, with David Quartararo executive producing, but much credit should be given to Jon Barton and everyone he brought — Brett Lynch (former Navy Seal), Marvin Jordan, Zach McCall, Dotan Baer, Santiago Zapata, Darius Cottrell, Matt Anderson, Robert Garcia, Wade Harlan, to mention a few — all were great. We couldn’t have done it without their tireless invention and willingness to do anything for the shot.
The agency was Campbell-Ewald, and we had a wonderful, engaged team: Al Majewski, art director, Jeff Warner, copy writer, producer Laura McGowan (!!!), and creative directors Jon Stewart and Doug Blanchard. START Editorial in Detroit handled the cuts with editor Louis Lyne at the helm. Eric Maurer from Postique Detroit did the color. All succeeded in accomplishing remarkable work in a very short time.
USAA was founded in the 1920’s under the name United States Army Automobile Association by a group of army officers who were refused automobile insurance as a result of having been enlisted in the army. In an effort to provide themselves with auto insurance, they began the USAA, and today it is a Fortune-500 company, consistently rated highest in consumer surveys. This is their first venture into broadcast. Picrow is proud to have been a part of it.